Diocese Catholics at WYD Rio Print this post

Bishop sends off group with blessing

By Bob Reddy (Florida Catholic)


BA group of more than 50 Catholic youth and adult chaperones representing nine different parishes in Southwest Florida are now in Rio de Janeiro as part of an international pilgrimage known as World Youth Day.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane greeted and blessed pilgrims leaving from Fort Myers on July 21. The youth took a charter bus to Miami International Airport from Blessed Pope John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers.

World Youth Day is an international gathering celebrated every three years and is expected to draw an estimated two million people from around the globe from July 23-July 28. The event serves as a worldwide encounter with the Holy Father, Pope Francis. Out of the seven Dioceses in Florida, the Diocese of Venice is taking the largest group (52).

BAlthough unable to attend due to a recent hip replacement, Bishop Dewane told the pilgrims that he certainly wanted to go to World Youth Day. He noted that he knows from the experience of attending World Youth Day pilgrimages in the past that they will have a spiritual journey of faith, filled with great joy and blessings as they join other Catholic youth from around the world.

“Know that the faithful in the Diocese of Venice are praying for you and we ask that you pray for us,” he said. “I know that you will experience times or moments where you will encounter Christ in others; take that moment deep inside of you and grow from this opportunity… Be sure to take it all in and share your experiences with everyone back home. I personally look forward to following your progress throughout the week.” Bishop Dewane concluded by blessing the pilgrims.

BTo make the trip possible, the youth worked to raise the money throughout the past two years. They also found a great deal of support from individual parishioners and their parishes as a whole, as well as, the Knights of Columbus and the Ladies Auxiliary, who have afforded the groups many opportunities to raise funds.

While on their journey, the Diocesan pilgrims will attend daily Mass; take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; as well as participate in sessions designed to deepen their understanding of the Catholic Faith. The group returns to Southwest Florida on July 31.

As if the excitement to go on this special pilgrimage was not enough, Pilgrim Michele Saldana, of St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres, will be celebrating her 18th birthday in Rio. “This is truly an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and I know it will be for many of the pilgrims.” She is particularly excited about the prospect of seeing Pope Francis. “Pope Francis represents our Faith in a special way. To be at an event with him for the youth from around the world will be an awesome experience no matter how physically close we get.”

Pilgrim Marissa Carvello, of St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral, was part of the Parish Youth Choir which created a music CD to help raise money for the pilgrimage. The group is bringing copies to share with the other pilgrims from around the world. “It is so exciting to meet people of different cultures who all share the same belief in God.”

Jefferson Jones of St. Raphael in Lehigh, has the opportunity to share his experience in Rio with his older brother Mark who is also going. “It is an honor to be part of such an event. I am sure we will all come back with wonderful stories about our Faith to share with our friends.”

The Diocese of Venice is posting a blog and photos from the pilgrims throughout World Youth Day on its website at www.dioceseofvenice.org. Complete coverage of World Youth Day will be found in the Aug. 9 issue of the Florida Catholic.

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